October 23, 2007

Out Of The Blogosphere

Before I delve into today's topic of choice, a few definitions.

Blog (from Wikipedia): A blog (a portmanteau of web log) is a website where entries are written in chronological order and commonly displayed in reverse chronological order. "Blog" can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog. Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs.

Blog (from Webster's): An online diary; a personal chronological log of thoughts published on a Web page; also called Weblog, Typically updated daily, blogs often reflect the personality of the author.

Blog (from whatis.com): A blog (short for weblog) is a personal online journal that is frequently updated and intended for general public consumption. Blogs are defined by their format: a series of entries posted to a single page in reverse-chronological order. Blogs generally represent the personality of the author or reflect the purpose of the Web site that hosts the blog.

Everyone has a blog - celebrities (especially those who shouldn't be allowed near a keyboard), politicians, everyday Joes (and Janes) like me (although I'm not a Jane - you haven't missed some major detail or operation), and even people's pets. It should come as no surprise that a lucrative industry has grown up around the blogosphere and its inhabitants, chief among them - wait for it - advice about blogging.

Last week, I started a blog crawl (my own term - please feel free to spread it around and credit my brilliance) and ran across more sites than I could shake a stick at (I tried; this would be any number over 657) all dedicated to making you a better blogger. I searched Amazon and found book after book all focused on the same. All these publications seem to say the same things. Write better. Attract more readers. Grow a profitable site. Be the coolest kid in the virtual sandbox.

Now, this may piss off some of you who go for this kinda stuff (and for that I'm sorry) but I call bullshit on this whole genre of blogging advice and the blogging know-it-alls behind it.

When I searched around for some good definitions of blogging - the ones you see up at the top of this entry - I noticed one common denominator. Use of the word personal.

Blogging is an inherently personal activity. I share with you. You read. You comment. I reply. And many of you do the same. I pick who I read (and all too infrequently comment) because, well, you're you. You've each led different lives which have made you different people with different thoughts, ideas, dreams, goals, hopes and fears. That's what makes blogging cool. So why would you want to learn to blog just like everyone else and become another faceless member of the blogosphere?

Please please please resist the urge to better your blogging selves at the expense of your personalities. Don't become one of the nameless, faceless, cookie-cutter masses. You're one of the last bastions of individualism. You're perfect the way you are.

Posted by Chris at October 23, 2007 6:22 AM


Posted by: Kara at October 23, 2007 7:27 AM

Ditto. I was flipping through one such book by bloggers you probably know and the word that came to mind was "fluff."

Posted by: laura at October 23, 2007 7:48 AM

Awww, you're so self-affirming. :)

Posted by: Cassandra at October 23, 2007 8:05 AM

Yay for Chris!

I wrote a post on the same topic not too long ago, concerning the "rules" in blogging. I totally agree with you!

Posted by: Alissa at October 23, 2007 8:07 AM

Thank you for this... You know, I started blogging because I love to write, and as one of my writing teachers told me, 80% of what we write is crap - that we have to get that 80% out to get to the 20% "good stuff". So, I know that I have some off days when I blog- don't really care, because I know it does for me (and purging my head) than it might for those who read... and that's what matters to me.

Posted by: Sarah at October 23, 2007 8:13 AM

Awwww, now I have my warm fuzzy for the day. Thanks :-)

Also, I'm totally with you. Most sites that I read I read because something about the person behind them interests me. Down with cookie-cutter "profitable" sites! Up with personality! Damn The Man! Etc!

Posted by: Dawn at October 23, 2007 8:44 AM

Well said! Each person is different and every life is different, so I'd assume every blog would be different too. Make-your-blog-like-others literature is stupid. What's the point really :)

Posted by: Dee at October 23, 2007 9:01 AM

Awww. I wish there was an emoticon for standing on your chair, giving a taxi whistle.

Posted by: Fraulein N at October 23, 2007 9:03 AM

Someone, I cannot remember who, posted a shit load of links on this subject about a month or two ago and I looked at some of them and saw the advise and TOTALLY IGNORED it. It seemed so lame. I mean I blog because I like to write (and needed some outlet for that even though I may not be very good, I still enjoy it even if no one reads it - keyword for me is OUTLET!) and I am writing about my life today, not some made up stuff that never really happened or feelings I never really had so THANKS for the great reminder post on this topic!!!

Posted by: Christina at October 23, 2007 9:03 AM

OK, where do I line up for the group hug? ;)

Posted by: SciFi Dad at October 23, 2007 9:17 AM

Rude Cactus for President!
You know, this topic really needed to be addressed, so glad you did.

Posted by: Diane at October 23, 2007 9:32 AM

::snicker:: Chris just said I was perfect.

But seriously, I couldn't agree more. In fact, I stopped reading a very well known blog after the author wrote a book on how to blog. Seems that my talking about what I had for lunch was no longer good enough for her. But I maintain that if my lunch was important to me, and I can make it interesting for you to read about it, then it is indeed good enough. Maybe even better than that.

Well said, you.

Posted by: Candy at October 23, 2007 9:35 AM

Books that teach one how to talk about their lives to people they'll probably never meet? And how they can possibly make a buck off of it? That dials 'sad' up a notch, methinks.

Posted by: You c an call me, 'Sir' at October 23, 2007 9:38 AM

The only cookie cutter you'll find on me is to make sugar cookies with. My blog is (I hope) very individual and sometimes a little crazy! (I hope) Just like me.

Posted by: Maribeth at October 23, 2007 9:48 AM

Thank you for reminding me what Mr. Rodgers taught me...I am perfect the way I am!

Posted by: gypsy at October 23, 2007 10:21 AM

Back atcha!

Posted by: sue at October 23, 2007 10:54 AM

Rock, rock. Sometimes you're so awesome the only thing I can do is hold up the proverbial concert lighter.

Posted by: Sassy at October 23, 2007 10:56 AM

"if my lunch was important to me, and I can make it interesting for you to read about it, then it is indeed good enough. "

Candy said that a couple of comments ahead of me.

I'm not a writer; I never will be that creative. That's not why I have a blog or why I hang out at sites like this.

I was quite isolated in the years B.C. (before computer). I no longer am. I started writing due to the arm twisting of an online friend and never stopped.

If my so called blog is boring, use the little X at the top of the screen.

Congratulations on your correct usage of "bastion". I had to put husband back in hospital last night for antibiotic treatments we couldn't do at home. Nothing serious I hope; just one of those minor setbacks. Anyhow, the clerk entering Ray's information asked me how to spell "graft". She'd spelled it "graph". Yikes!!

Posted by: ann adams at October 23, 2007 10:56 AM

Right on, my fellow blogger. Right on *making the Fist of Rock*

Posted by: GreenCanary at October 23, 2007 10:59 AM

I hear you. I have another, genre-specific blog that has me constantly questioning myself. All the other bloggers in that genre seem very concerned with their ads, with increasing traffic, with schemes and rules that will get more eyeballs to their page. They make me feel like my sporadic, whacked-out, personal entries are somehow naive.

But I just keep reminding myself that I'm writing for me, in my voice--as best as I can determine it. That was my purpose in starting the bloody thing, so why duck out now just because I've got fewer readers?

Posted by: Alias Mother at October 23, 2007 11:17 AM

One of my favourite definitions, stolen from wired.com more than a year ago and used in many presentations on social media since then, goes "'Blog' itself is short for 'weblog', which is short for: 'we blog because we weren't very popular in high school and we're trying to gain respect and admiration without actually having to be around people.'"


Posted by: DaniGirl at October 23, 2007 11:34 AM

Great post and good perspective.

Posted by: anna at October 23, 2007 11:37 AM

You're perfect the way you are.

Mom? Mom? Is that you?

Oh wait, my mom never said that to me...
heh heh

I agree entirely, btw.

Posted by: ewe_are_here at October 23, 2007 11:52 AM

Awww, thanks! So're you!

Posted by: amy at October 23, 2007 11:57 AM

Right on, brother. I blog because I want to, and because I think (a small group of) people will enjoy reading what I say. I don't blog to make money.

Posted by: Steve Boyko at October 23, 2007 12:02 PM

I agree, though I understand how folks can be tempted thinking that these resources might help them increase their readership. Sometimes writing into a black hole can be a bumme--but it's probably been a while since you had that issue. ;)

Posted by: MammaLoves at October 23, 2007 12:03 PM


Posted by: Jeff A at October 23, 2007 1:10 PM

Amen, brother.

Posted by: Kelly at October 23, 2007 1:20 PM

My term is "Blurfing" - 'blog surfing' - hopping from blog to blog based on links or blogrolls. Not copyrighted, please, feel free to use :)

As always, you capture what a lot of other people think and put it in words we can't always find. Thanks for writing what I've been trying to tell a new blogging friend. (She's new to blogging, not a new friend *G*)

"Write for yourself, not for anyone else. If you write for other people, you lose yourself - and everything just seems so plastic."

Posted by: Kellie at October 23, 2007 1:47 PM

I just had a brilliant idea! I'm going to start a bunch of blogs, work up readers, and then sell the blogs for big bucks to people who have no personalities of their own. ;)

Posted by: Tink at October 23, 2007 2:38 PM

I can only imagine how beige the world would be if we all started blogging alike.

Posted by: alison at October 23, 2007 2:53 PM

Very good point. People tell you not to be a follower, and be yourself as you grow up, so why on earth would you want to have the same damn online journal as everyone else?

Individuality is one thing that humans can control.

Posted by: slinger at October 23, 2007 2:55 PM

I feel so special now:o) Actually, I like my little blog just the way it is. It keeps family and friends up-to-date on stuff going on, and it gives me a place to express myself. That's really all I need.

Posted by: Heather at October 23, 2007 3:29 PM

Totally agree. Unless someone has never heard of a blog and needs a bit of guidance on what it is...I say, look at the people who are writing the way you want to write (or not) and develop your own style accordingly.

Posted by: sandra at October 23, 2007 3:45 PM

You have much wisdom, grasshopper.

Posted by: wordgirl at October 23, 2007 5:53 PM

agree !

Posted by: Jenn at October 23, 2007 7:45 PM

agree !

Posted by: Jenn at October 23, 2007 7:45 PM

Bravo! I totally agree with you. After returning to blogging after a three-year hiatus, it seems that the advice has only gotten more tedious. I think that if you want to have a cookie-cutter, high-earning blog, great. (Hey, the high-earnings part would be wonderful! But not the cookie-cutter - even if I haven't yet changed from one of the standard templates on my blog.) But I prefer to read blogs with personality.

Posted by: Dawn at October 23, 2007 9:18 PM

I admire those who can still keep a personal voice when trying to cultivate an audience. I think it's really hard to do. I like reading real entries.

I feel like we should start singing Billy Joel... "Don't go changing..."

Posted by: Lisa V at October 23, 2007 9:44 PM

Perfect just the way I am? Awwww...you're too sweet. :)

Posted by: Allison at October 23, 2007 10:16 PM

That was a great post. You hit it on the nose, really. Far too often, people get caught up in the contests of being the top blogger or the one with the most comments and they forget why it is they actually blog.

It's a shame that one could sell out on something that should be an extension of their own personality.

My blog is my therapy. It's just the way I like it.

Posted by: Eatmisery at October 23, 2007 11:12 PM

Awwww, thanks.

Posted by: Bethany at October 24, 2007 12:27 AM

I've been in Chicago on business the last couple of days. Just got home and am sifting through a very cluttered Google Reader inbox. I have the urge to say this is the best post I've read all day, but actually it's the best of the last three. It's refreshing when you read and write what suits you and not only to serve your goals of being the cool kid.

Thanks for this. I'll be forwarding this link on.

Posted by: Jennie at October 24, 2007 3:57 PM

Oh, Mr. Darcy!

Posted by: b32 at October 24, 2007 7:50 PM

Oh, Mr. Darcy!

Posted by: b32 at October 24, 2007 7:51 PM

I don't like when people make fun of me for blogging. No, I'm not the best at it, bit it IS personal. I think it's rude of people to judge.

I enjoy reading and writing and commenting with people - real people - not folks trying to grow an audience. I mean - if you're popular, great, but it's like high school...don't try to be something you're not.

(I have reached a new level of dorkdom. I'm commenting via my blackberry cause I'm babysitting and don't have a computer. I love technology.)

Posted by: Emily at October 24, 2007 10:30 PM

Wait, I'm *not* going to be a better blogger in 50 easy steps for only $29.95?

Posted by: Aimee Greeblemonkey at October 26, 2007 5:48 PM

Some specialists tell that personal loans help a lot of people to live their own way, just because they can feel free to buy necessary stuff. Moreover, different banks present auto loan for different classes of people.

Posted by: WOODARD31Roslyn at March 20, 2010 2:16 AM